Mostly self-taught, Cerrato spent one year studying illustration at Istituto Europeo di Design' in Torino with the hope of one day creating children's books.
But that dream was put on hold as she struggled to balance her artistic life with caring for her sick parents and teaching.
Then she met Catonsville resident Richard Neuman in July of 2004.
A widower of 23 years and father of two, Neuman had planned to bicycle across Europe with an American friend who lived in Italy.
He ended up staying in Italy after his friend was diagnosed with aheart condition.
His decision to improve his Italian changed Cerrato's life when the "handsome American bicyclist" signed up for private lessons with her.
"The first thing I noticed was, wow, great legs," said Cerrato, who said she had never considered marriage before meeting Neuman.
"But I surely was not looking for anything," she said. "And then I just got this incredible crush on him and so, I was teaching him and I was thinking, wow, I wish I could hug him and kiss him.
"But I was very professional, so I was not going to do that," she said. "And I surely was not thinking that anything was going to happen. I mean, I was the teacher, he was the student. He's American, much older than I. But we were lucky. We got helped by angels, or I don't know, somebody did something."
When their course work concluded, Neuman asked if he could take her out to dinner as a gesture of appreciation.
The couple ended up talking for hours.
Those conversations continued long distance over the phone after he went back to the U. S.
They married in December of that year in Lutherville.
It took a year for Cerrato to immigrate to the United States, a time period that was difficult, but "romantic" because they were on the phone every day for hours.
"That was the best part, I think," she said. "In fact, sometimes I miss that — so I ask him to go upstairs and call."
On Feb. 14, 2006, Valentine's Day, Cerrato moved to Catonsville.
"She gave up her family, her friends, her language, her culture, the climate in Italy, the food, all of that to come here," Neuman said.
"Everything," she added.
Cerrato has made a life and developed friendships with local artists in Catonsville and the couple still return to Italy for several months each year to see family and friends.
While she was on one of those trips earlier this month, her work was shown during a show at Catonsville Presbyterian.